Tricia Heldmann has been owned by German Shepherd Dogs since 1960, has been involved in Search And Rescue (SAR) since 1992, and as a SAR K9 handler of GSDs almost that long. Having been through the many and varied dog training methods used over decades she is well aware of why positive reinforcement works. As a SAR K9 handler positive reinforcement is the most dependable training form when one is working a dog that can be out of sight and hearing for parts of its mission. There can not be enough said about the positive method in SAR – it “sticks” and remains with the dog.
She has worked scenting dogs, not only GSDs, for many years and knows a great deal about the nuances of acquiring scent. She has focused much of the training on scent specific (trailing) search dogs in the SAR unit she founded TASK-9, LLC (www.task-9.org). Tricia has trained extensively under many of the nation’s leading trainers; Rebmann, Koenig, Dotson, Shuler, Holmes, Higgins, in SAR, and others in general dog behavior. Because she has trained many different breeds of dogs in search work in both generic scenting and scent specific over the years she is considered a master trainer in the SAR K9 field. Her library of dog training books and SAR training books is extensive and she can sometimes be a seminar “junkie” attending several SAR and dog training events in a year, all in the effort to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
Tricia finds the process of watching a dog acquire scent, work in and out of scent, and then pinpoint the source, both fascinating and thrilling. From the newest, greenest dog to the most veteran, once they have been imprinted on the target odor, the head and body language speaks volumes. She trains the handler to recognize this unique vernacular and call it when they see it.
As well as being a SAR trainer Tricia has been a volunteer with Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Inc. since 1979, and foster puppy raiser. She is a member of the international organization Canine Search And Recovery (CSAR) and founding member of the National Search Dog Network (NSDN).
New K-9 Scent Fun class at Tails-U-Win.